What a Nice Surprise

By: Kathy Kelsey Foley, director on July 27th, 2011

I’m blogging this week following the Association of Midwest Museums’ annual conference in Chicago – Museumpalooza, which got underway on Sunday, July 24, with a terrific kick-off party at The Art Institute of Chicago’s Renzo Piano Modern Wing. Wow!
Needless to say, museum colleagues roll out the red carpet for their peers and when sponsors such as Groupon – yes! – get involved, the results are impressive.
It had been seventeen years since the Midwest Museums convened in Chicago and clearly the destination is a draw. In addition, the Midwest Association teamed up with the Illinois Association of Museums and the Visitor Studies Association, resulting in an even more robust array of program sessions and a total registration approaching 800.
First up Monday morning was the Association’s annual business meeting, which included the pro-forma activities of approval of the minutes from last year’s gathering, a finance report, and Board nominations and election. Prior to introducing the keynote speaker, the Association presented awards.
I was delightfully surprised and even a bit flummoxed to hear the name Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum announced as the recipient of the Best Practices Award for Public Programming.
Quite a wonderful surprise, indeed!
In presenting the award, Lin Nelson-Mayson, director of the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design, highlighted the Woodson Art Museum’s leadership in developing programs for all ages and stages, ranging from Art Babies for our youngest visitors to SPARK! for older adults with memory loss and their care partners.
Over the next day and a half, I attended a number of excellent sessions, met new colleagues, and visited with longtime friends. I’m returning to the Woodson with pages of notes, ideas for new programs, and names to share with my co-workers for future projects.
Reflecting on these all-too-quick experiences, I must say that the recognition for the Woodson’s programming is a highlight. The Best Practices Award belongs to each and every Museum staff member, who give their all day in and day out. What a privilege it is to call them a trusted team, valued colleagues, and my friends.

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